I often have a jar of these quick pink pickled onions sitting in the fridge – ready for topping everything from tacos to burgers.

These pickled red onions take less than 5 minutes to put together, and are a wonderful accompaniment to burgers, tacos, hotdogs, fried chicken and rich beef meals – the list goes on. It’s the perfect sweet and sour flavour combo and slight crunch to cut through bold flavours. 

They have a magical way of adding zing and flavour to everything from avocado toast to nachos. Their tangy, slightly sweet flavour is lovely for cutting through fattier dishes too.

If tangy condiments are life for you too try this pickled red cabbage, mojo verde (spanish green sauce) or the chimichurri on this steak.

This recipe was first posted on February 27th, 2017 and has been updated with more information and new images.

Bright pink onions in a glass jar on a wooden board

Ingredients for pink pickled onions

All good quick pickles need a few components to work. The base ingredients (in this case onion), acid, salt, sugar and flavour.

Ingredients for easy pickled onions on a white bench top

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Base: Red onions are the base here – the star of this easy pickle recipe.
  • Acid: White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (the latter adds lovely flavour but often has a more yellow or cloudy appearance – sometimes I’ll use half and half of each).
  • Flavour: Wholegrain mustard seeds
  • Salt: regular table salt
  • Sugar: I use caster (superfine) sugar. This way it dissolves just by giving it all a good shake. If you use granulated make sure to shake the mix very well to dissolve it or, heat the brine mixture without the onion first to dissolve it.

See substitution ideas below too.

How to pickle onions

Onions, vinegar and mustard seeds being added to a glass jar

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Grab yourself a clean preserving jar.
  2. Slice the onions thinly using a sharp knife or mandoline.
  3. Add everything to the jar, put the lid on and give it a good shake.
  4. Let them sit for at least an hour before serving.

Using caster sugar / superfine sugar in this recipe means the pickling liquid doesn’t even need to be cooked. Give it a good shake in the jar and it will dissolve perfectly.

The bright pink colour intensifies the longer the onions sit. After 24 hours or 2 days, you’ll notice a big colour change. You can also add a teaspoon of juice from beetroot pickling liquid to make it even more vibrant.

Substitutions and variations

With this simple combination of flavours and an idea of ratios in mind, you can get creative making your own pickles in no time.

  • Base: So many crunchy vegetables work. Try cauliflower or chillis for instance.
  • Acid: Use malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar – there are so many to choose from. Different vinegars will require different amounts of sugar and salt though. Just adjust to taste.
  • Salt: Try adding soy instead for a different salt or even flavoured salts.
  • Sweetener: You can swap out the white sugar and use brown or even use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. If using a more granular sugar, like brown sugar, it’s best to heat the brine mixture in a small saucepan until it dissolves.
  • Flavour: There are so many ways to add flavour. Spices like star anise, cinnamon and cloves in their whole form. Or heartier ones like curry powder, garlic, mustard powder or cumin seeds. Herbs can impart a lovely flavour – think bay leaf, rosemary or oregano in their dried forms.
  • Heat: You can also add some red pepper flakes (dried chilli flakes) for a little spicy heat.
Bright pink onions in a glass jar on a wooden board

Frequently asked questions

What is the best vinegar for pickling

Types of vinegar that are good for pickling are;

  • regular distilled white vinegar
  • red or white wine vinegar
  • malt vinegar
  • apple cider vinegar
  • rice wine vinegar / rice vinegar

You can also use citrus juices like lemon juice or lime juice in place of some of the vinegar.

How long do pickled onions last?

This is a quick pickle and will keep for up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight jar in the fridge. This particular pickle recipe is not made for long term storage.

What to do with pickled onions

Pink pickled onions are great served with bold flavours and fatty dishes since the acidity cuts through both. I’ve served them with all of the recipes below and they worked a treat.

From simple sandwiches to rich meat dishes, pickled pink onions can elevate so many meals.

Bright pink onions in a glass jar on a wooden board

IF YOU TRY THIS easy pickled onions recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!

Hungry for more? Subscribe to the newsletter for free recipes straight to your inbox. Also, follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Bright pink onions in a glass jar on a wooden board.
4.8 from 8 ratings
These pink pickled onions are a sweet and tangy condiment just begging to be used topping salads, grilled meats, tacos and burgers. They only take 5 minutes to make and you probably have everything you need right now.


  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar (notes 1 & 2)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided


  • Peel and slice the onion and set aside.
  • Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard to a clean preserve jar, screw on the lid and shake well to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  • Add the sliced onions and give it a good mix.
  • Chill for at least an hour before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Please take a moment to rate this recipe. I helps me to keep creating free recipes and helps other readers too.


  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon
  2. You can use regular granulated sugar but make sure to really shake the brine ingredients well to dissolve it. If it’s not dissolving, heat the pickling liquid only, stirring until it dissolves, before adding the onion.
  3. Calories are a based on 6 serves per cup.
Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
Quick Pink Pickled Onions
Amount Per Serving (42 g)
Calories 185 Calories from Fat 4
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.4g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Sodium 4730mg206%
Potassium 263mg8%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 29g32%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 6IU0%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Calcium 46mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.